To mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited (Penguin), the newly unveiled The Brideshead Festival will "celebrate and interrogate the ongoing appeal of this seminal novel and its screen adaptations", masterminded by former HarperCollins c.e.o. Victoria Barnsley.
Bringing together the worlds of literature, film, TV and heritage, organisers promised it will be “one of the most exciting new additions to the cultural calendar in 2020”.
The brainchild of Barnsley, it will take place from 26th–28th June 2020 at Castle Howard, the stately home in York that became synonymous with Brideshead. Barnsley runs Castle Howard with her husband Nicholas Howard. The property was used as the location for the agenda-setting 1981 TV adaptation and the subsequent feature film in 2008. Members of the original cast and crew will join writers, novelists and commentators in the festival line-up.
“Speakers will evaluate Waugh’s place in the cultural canon of 20th-century literature and the relevance of the novel for today’s audiences,” organisers said. “Taking a modern-day perspective, presenters will also look at the impact of the TV adaptation on the imagination of generations of viewers and the role literary adaptations play in today’s cultural landscape.”
A host of other festival activities will pay homage to scenes and themes in Brideshead including a teddy bear’s picnic, a wine tasting at the Temple of the Four Winds and an immersive Brideshead party. Bespoke Brideshead tours will offer a look behind the scenes of the iconic adaptations and a specially commissioned sound installation will focus on Castle Howard’s place in the Brideshead story. Echoing the theme of plenty in the novel, "food and drink will be a particular feature with local producers and well-known chefs providing Brideshead-inspired culinary experiences", organisers said.
Barnsley said: “I am delighted to be launching The Brideshead Festival. It has long been an ambition of mine to celebrate Castle Howard’s connection to Brideshead, and what better time to do it than its 75th anniversary. We look forward to bringing together a vibrant mix of speakers and performers to interrogate and interpret this brilliant work and its screen adaptations in the wonderful setting of Castle Howard.”
Brideshead Revisited (Penguin) was published in 1945 and follows Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Flyte family and their opulent family home, exploring the decline of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War.
Further programme details will be announced in early 2020.